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- Feb 5, 2017
The next generation of 3D NAND—with 64 or more layers—has not yet hit the shelves, but it's getting closer. Toshiba and Western Digital announced their first mainstream client SSDs with 3D NAND recently at Computex. Micron and SK Hynix shouldn't be too far behind with their new generations of 3D NAND and mainstream SSDs based on them. As these flash manufacturers reach full production capacity of their new 3D NAND, the ongoing NAND shortage should begin to lift and SSD prices will stop climbing. However, none of these new SSDs are in stores yet, so this edition of the guide doesn't bring any major changes.
If you are considering making a significant investment in a large or high-performance SSD, consider waiting until the fall when 64+ layer SSDs start shipping. There will be many more high-capacity options and there will likely be a few new challengers to Samsung's performance lead in the NVMe SSD space.
As always, the prices shown are merely a snapshot at the time of writing. We make no attempt to predict when or where the best discounts will be. Instead, this guide should be treated as a baseline against which deals can be compared. All of the drives recommended here are models we have tested in at least one capacity or form factor, but in many cases we have not tested every capacity and form factor. For drives not mentioned in this guide, our SSD Bench database can provide performance information and comparisons.
Premium SATA drives: Samsung 850 PRO
With the SanDisk Extreme Pro on its way out and being replaced by a drive with 3D TLC and a three year warranty, the Samsung 850 PRO is unchallenged as the premium high-endurance SATA SSD for consumers. ADATA and Mushkin are offering drives using Micron's 3D MLC but with substantially shorter warranty periods (expecially from Mushkin) and a less powerful SSD controller that limits performance. Most other major SSD manufacturers are planning to cease offering MLC SSDs in the consumer market in favor of 3D TLC, so the Samsung 850 PRO is unlikely to be be displaced by a better SATA SSD. Instead, NVMe SSDs are overshadowing the 850 PRO's performance and the growing range of SATA SSDs with 3D TLC are offering most of the 850 PRO's real-world performance for a much better price.
Buy Samsung 850 Pro (512GB) on Amazon.com
250/256GB 500/512GB 1TB 2TB
Samsung 850 PRO $137.99 (55¢/GB) $257.99 (50¢/GB) $441.11 (44¢/GB) $1044.99 (52¢/GB)
Samsung 850 EVO $99.99 (40¢/GB) $179.99 (36¢/GB) $365.99 (37¢/GB) $699.99 (35¢/GB)
Value & Mainstream SATA: Crucial MX300, Mushkin Reactor 1TB
Mushkin is still able to offer some capacities of the Reactor at prices that can compete against TLC SSDs, so until it is replaced by its 3D MLC-based successor, it's a good deal. Otherwise, the Crucial MX300 continues to offer the best mix of good pricing and performance among TLC SSDs. The ADATA SU800 is sometimes a bit cheaper but is also slower, while the Samsung 850 EVO is still the fastest SATA TLC SSD but is also clearly more expensive.
This product segment is the most likely to be shaken up by the imminent arrival of 64-layer 3D TLC from Toshiba/Western Digital/SanDisk. The many brands of Phison-based SATA SSDs will finally move to 3D NAND, and the NAND manufacturers themselves will introduce models to compete directly against the Crucial MX300 and hopefully also the Samsung 850 EVO.
Buy Crucial MX300 1TB on Amazon.com
250-275GB 500-525GB 1000-1050GB 2TB
Mushkin Reactor $96.99 (38¢/GB) $165.99 (33¢/GB) $269.99 (27¢/GB)
Samsung 850 EVO $99.99 (40¢/GB) $179.99 (36¢/GB) $365.99 (37¢/GB) $699.00 (35¢/GB)
Crucial MX300 $99.99 (40¢/GB) $159.99 (32¢/GB) $289.99 (29¢/GB) $549.00 (27¢/GB)
Standard & M.2 PCIe: Intel SSD 600p and Samsung 960 EVO
The number of value NVMe options continues to grow. The Intel SSD 600p is still the cheapest (and slowest), though the Western Digital WD Black is getting close in price and has far fewer performance pitfalls. The Samsung 960 EVO is powered by the same best-in-class NVMe SSD controller as the 960 PRO, allowing the 960 EVO to offer performance competitive with many MLC NVMe SSDs.
For the absolute highest performance or for a 2TB M.2 PCIe option, the Samsung 960 PRO is the obvious choice. However, its performance advantage on most client workloads amounts to little more than bragging rights; cheaper NVMe SSDs are plenty fast.
Buy Samsung 960 EVO 500GB on Amazon.com
128GB 250-256GB 500-512GB 1TB 2TB
Samsung 960 EVO
Samsung 960 Pro
Intel SSD 600p
Intel SSD 600p
M.2 SATA: Samsung 850 EVO and Crucial MX300
There are far fewer options for M.2 SATA SSDs than 2.5" SSDs, but several of the best drives are available in either form factor. The Crucial MX300 is usually one of the cheapest M.2 SATA options and its performance and power consumption are a great fit for notebooks. The current WD Blue comes close in price but its performance and power consumption are inferior; the upcoming 3D NAND-based WD Blue should improve on both counts. The Samsung 850 EVO is the high-performance alternative, but it commands a substantial price premium over the Crucial MX300.
Buy Crucial MX300 275GB M.2 on Amazon.com
250-275GB 500-525GB 1TB
Samsung 850 EVO M.2 $109.55 (44¢/GB) $184.99 (37¢/GB) $357.99 (36¢/GB)
Crucial MX300 M.2 $99.99 (36¢/GB) $159.99 (30¢/GB) $289.99 (29¢/GB)